The nuttiest of the
HALLOWEEN sequels, a Michael Myers-less something-or-other
involving computers, Stonehenge, androids and deadly masks.
This bizarre film came about due to the efforts of its
producer John Carpenter, who hated
HALLOWEEN II and insisted on taking the
material in an entirely new direction. His plan was to put out a new
HALLOWEEN movie each year with a different Halloween set premise, but
that idea was nixed after the present film underperformed at the box
The great Nigel Kneale (1922-2006), of the QUARTERMASS
films, THE STONE TAPE
and many other classics, was hired to write the screenplay but had his
name removed after his script was altered. First-time director Tommy Lee
Wallace, a longtime John Carpenter cohort (Wallace edited HALLOWEEN and
THE FOG) ended up with sole writing credit.
In short, for those wondering where HALLOWEEN III:
SEASON OF THE WITCH fits in with the other HALLOWEEN films, the answer
is: it doesn’t!
Dr. Dan has problems: in the days leading up to
Halloween his kids are obsessed with an upcoming TV broadcast by an
outfit called Silver Shamrock, and Dan’s latest patient, a nut who
claims “they’re going to kill us all!,” has his eyes gouged out
by a suit-wearing man who promptly immolates himself.
Dan gets in touch with the murdered man’s attractive
daughter Ellie. She reveals that her father was a mask maker, and
persuades Dan to accompany her on a visit to the corporate headquarters
of Silver Shamrock, who put her father out of business and may be
responsible for his death.
Their destination is a rural town called Santa Mira,
lorded over by Silver Shamrock’s CEO Conal Cochran. The latter
institutes a strict 6 PM curfew each night, and has surveillance cameras
set up to enforce it. Cochran also has a strict no-dissention policy, as
one unfortunate local learns after dissing Cochran to Dan--and having
his head literally twisted off his shoulders for doing so!
Dan meets Cochran the following day. The latter turns
out to be a kindly old man who gives Dan, Ellie and some other
out-of-towners a tour of his mask-making factory. Nothing seems amiss,
but that night Ellie is grabbed by suit-wearing assholes and hauled
away. Dan witnesses the kidnapping and goes poking around the town. In
doing so he happens upon another of those suited men; a fight ensues,
during which Dan rips out the man’s guts, revealing the “man” as an
At this point Cochran shows back up and takes Dan on a
second, more inclusive tour of his factory. He shows Dan into a
laboratory where lackeys are inserting bits of Stonehenge into masks. To
demonstrate the purpose of the masks, Cochran shows Dan video footage of
a kid wearing one of his masks while watching what will be broadcast on
Halloween: a flashing pumpkin that causes the kid to die and lots of
cockroaches and snakes to crawl out of his head (??). In this way
Cochran is looking to appease the ancient gods who decreed that humans
be sacrificed on Halloween (or something).
Dan escapes, rescues Ellie and destroys Cochran’s
operation. But will he be able to prevent the coming kid-pocalypse,
especially after he learns that Ellie is actually one of Cochran’s
androids programmed to take him out?
The direction by Tommy Lee Wallace is passable, with
lots of wide shots and lengthy steadicam visuals. Wallace over-relies on
the minimalist score by John Carpenter and Allen Howarth to move things
along, but at least there’s a reasonably strong lead performance by
onetime Carpenter regular Tom Atkins, and a passable one by Dan
O’Herlihy, who gets points for keeping a straight face throughout his
screen time as the heavy.
Yet ultimately it’s the nutzoid narrative that makes
the greatest impression. Nigel Kneale buffs will notice a number of his
trademarked preoccupations scattered throughout, including the
quasi-science fictionish community where much of the film takes place
and the theme of mass seduction of children (a la the Kneale
scripted QUARTERMASS CONCLUSION). Whose nutty idea it was to center the
film on pieces of Stonehenge injected into Halloween masks to kill kids
I’m not sure, but the concept doesn’t work. What precisely is the
reasoning behind such an act? Aren’t the mask makers aware that selling
killer masks would doubtless lead to mass lawsuits? And why reveal all
this to the protagonist and then let him escape the bad guys’ clutches?
Is this the dumbest HALLOWEEN movie ever? Probably not,
but it’s definitely a strong contender, and most interesting as a
Dino De Laurentiis Company/Universal Pictures
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Producers: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Screenplay: Tommy Lee Wallace (and Nigel Kneale)
Cinematography: Dean Cundy
Editing: Millie Moore
Cast: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy, Michael Currie, Ralph
Strait, Jadeen Barbor, Brad Schacter, Garn Stephens, Nancy Kyes,
Jonathan Terry, Al Berry, Wendy Wessberg, Essex Smith, Maidie Norman